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USCG National & STCW Officer Endorsement General Requirements

 
Required Examinations

Professional examination.

When the Coast Guard finds the applicant's experience and training to be satisfactory, and the applicant is eligible in all other respects, the Coast Guard will authorize examination in accordance with the following requirements:

  • Except for an endorsement required by the STCW Convention, any applicant for a deck or engineer officer endorsement limited to vessels less than 200 GRT, or an officer endorsement limited to uninspected fishing industry vessels, may request an orally assisted examination instead of any written or other textual examination. If there are textual questions that the applicant has difficulty reading and understanding, the Coast Guard will offer the orally assisted examination. Each officer endorsement based on an orally assisted examination is limited to the specific route and type of vessel upon which the applicant obtained the majority of service.
  • The general instructions for administration of examinations and the lists of subjects for all officer endorsements appear in subpart I of this part. The Coast Guard will place in the applicant's file a record indicating the subjects covered.
  • An applicant enrolled in an approved comprehensive program of training, service, and assessment will be authorized for an examination not more than 6 months prior to completion of the comprehensive program, provided all sea service and assessments of competency are completed prior to the examination.
  • The examination, whether administered orally or by other means, must be conducted only in the English language.

When the application has been approved for examination, the approval is valid for 1 year.

General Requirements

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46CFR11.201   General requirements for national and STCW officer endorsements.

Applicants for an officer endorsements, whether original, renewal, duplicate, or raise of grade, must establish to the satisfaction of the Coast Guard that he or she possesses all the qualifications necessary (including but not limited to age, experience, character, physical health, citizenship, approved training, professional competence, and a test for dangerous drugs) before the Coast Guard will issue to him or her a merchant mariner credential (MMC).

An applicant for any STCW endorsement must hold the appropriate national endorsement unless otherwise specified.

English language requirements. An applicant for an officer endorsement must demonstrate an ability to speak and understand English as found in the navigation rules, aids to navigation publications, emergency equipment instructions, machinery instructions, and radiotelephone communications instructions.

Experience and service.

Applicants for officer endorsements must provide documentation and proof of sea service.

An applicant for a national officer endorsement must have at least 3 months of required service on vessels of appropriate tonnage or horsepower within the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application.

No original officer endorsement may be issued to any naturalized citizen based on less experience in any grade or capacity than would have been required of a citizen of the United States by birth.

Experience and service acquired on foreign vessels is creditable for establishing eligibility for an officer endorsement, subject to evaluation by the Coast Guard to determine that it is a fair and reasonable equivalent to service acquired on merchant vessels of the United States, with respect to grade, tonnage, horsepower, waters, and operating conditions. An applicant who has obtained qualifying experience on foreign vessels must submit satisfactory documentary evidence of such service (including any necessary translation into English).

No applicant for an original officer endorsement who is a naturalized citizen and who has obtained experience on foreign vessels will be given an original officer endorsement in a grade higher than that upon which he or she has actually served while acting under the authority of a foreign credential.

Experience acquired while the applicant was less than 16 years of age is generally not creditable. Compelling circumstances and unique experiences acquired before the applicant reaches 16 years of age will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Citizenship. No officer endorsement may be issued to any person who is not a citizen of the United States with the exception of operators of uninspected passenger vessels that are not documented under the laws of the United States.

Age.

No officer endorsement may be issued to a person who has not attained the age of 21 years except as noted

An endorsement may be granted to an applicant who has reached the age of 19 years as—

  • Master of near-coastal, Great Lakes and inland, or river vessels of 200 GRT or less;
  • Third mate;
  • Third assistant engineer;
  • Mate of vessels of 1,600 GRT or less;
  • Ballast control operator (BCO);
  • Assistant engineer (MODU);
  • Assistant engineer of fishing industry vessels;
  • Mate (pilot) of towing vessels;
  • Radio officer;
  • Assistant engineer (limited); or
  • Designated duty engineer of vessels of less than 4,000 HP/3,000 kW.

An endorsement may be granted to an applicant who has reached the age of 18 years as—

  • Limited master of near-coastal vessels of less than 100 GRT;
  • Limited master of Great Lakes and inland vessels of less than 100 GRT;
  • Mate of Great Lakes and inland vessels of 25-200 GRT;
  • Mate of near-coastal vessels of 25-200 GRT;
  • Operator of uninspected passenger vessels (OUPV);
  • Designated duty engineer of vessels of less than 1,000 HP/750 kW;
  • Apprentice mate (steersman) of towing vessels;
  • Officer in charge of a navigational watch (OICNW);
  • Officer in charge of an engineering watch (OICEW); and
  • Electro-technical officer (ETO).

Physical examination.

Persons serving or intending to serve in the merchant marine service are encouraged to take the earliest opportunity to ascertain, through examination, whether their visual acuity, color vision, hearing, and general physical condition, are such as to qualify them for service in that profession. Any physical impairment or medical condition that would render an applicant incompetent to perform the ordinary duties required of an officer is cause for denial of an officer endorsement.

Applications for an original officer endorsement, raises of grade, and extensions of route, must be current and up to date with respect to service and the physical examination, as appropriate. Physical examinations and applications are valid for 12 months from the date the application is approved.

Character check.

An individual may apply for an original officer endorsement, or Officer or STCW endorsement of a different type, while on probation as a result of administrative action. The offense for which the applicant was placed on probation will be considered in determining his or her fitness to hold the endorsement applied for. An officer or STCW endorsement issued to an applicant on probation will be subject to the same probationary conditions as were imposed against the applicant's other credential. An applicant may not take an examination for an officer or STCW endorsement during any period of time when a suspension without probation or a revocation is effective against the applicant's currently held license, merchant mariner document (MMD), or MMC, or while an appeal from these actions is pending.

If information about the applicant's habits of life and character is brought to the attention of the Coast Guard after an original license, certificate of registry, or officer endorsement has been issued, and if such information reasonably supports the conclusion that the applicant cannot be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of the license, certificate of registry, or officer endorsement issued, or indicates that the application for the license, certificate of registry, or officer endorsement was false or incomplete, the Coast Guard may notify the holder in writing that the license, certificate of registry, or officer endorsement is considered null and void, direct the holder to return the credential to the Coast Guard, and advise the holder that, upon return of the credential, the appeal procedures that apply.

Restrictions.

The Coast Guard may modify the service and examination requirements to satisfy the unique qualification requirements of an applicant or distinct group of mariners. The Coast Guard may also lower the age requirement for OUPV applicants. The authority granted by an officer endorsement will be restricted to reflect any modifications made under this authority.

Sea Service Requirements

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Creditable service and equivalents for national and STCW officer endorsements.

Service toward an oceans, near-coastal, or STCW endorsement will be credited as follows:

  • Service on the Great Lakes will be credited on a day-for-day basis up to 100 percent of the total required service.
  • Service on inland waters, other than Great Lakes, that are navigable waters of the United States, will be credited on a day-for-day basis for up to 50 percent of the total required service.

Service on mobile offshore drilling units (MODU).

MODU service is creditable for raise of grade of an officer endorsement. Evidence of 1 year of service on MODUs as mate or equivalent while holding an officer endorsement or license as third mate, or as engineering officer of the watch or equivalent while holding an officer endorsement or license as third assistant engineer, is acceptable for a raise of grade to second mate or second assistant engineer, respectively.

However, any subsequent raises of grade of unlimited, non-restricted officer licenses or endorsements must include a minimum of 6 months of service on conventional vessels.

Service on MODUs maintaining station by means of dynamic positioning, may be credited as service on conventional vessels for any raise in grade; however, time more than 8 hours each day will not be credited.

A day of creditable MODU service must be a minimum of 4 hours, and no additional credit will be granted for periods of more than 8 hours.

Creditable MODU service excludes time spent ashore due to crew rotation.

Service on Articulated Tug Barges (ATBs) and Integrated Tug Barges (ITBs).

Service on ATB or Dual Mode ITB units is creditable for an original deck officer endorsement or raise of grade of any deck officer endorsement. Service on an ATB or Dual Mode ITB with an aggregate tonnage of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more is creditable on a two-for-one basis (2 days experience equals 1 day of creditable service) for up to 50 percent of the total service on vessels of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more required for an unlimited officer endorsement. The remaining required service on vessels of more than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT must be obtained on conventional vessels or Push Mode ITBs.

Service on towing vessels.

Service as master or mate (pilot) on towing vessels, when the aggregate tonnage of the tug and barges is 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more, is creditable, using the aggregate tonnage, on a two-for-one basis (2 days experience equals 1 day of creditable service) for up to 50 percent of the total service on vessels of 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT or more required for an unlimited officer endorsement. The remaining required service on vessels of more than 1,600 GRT/3,000 GT must be obtained on conventional vessels.

Other experience.

Individuals obtaining sea service as part of an approved training curriculum must do so in the capacity of cadet (deck) or cadet (engine), as appropriate, notwithstanding any other rating endorsements the individual may hold or any other capacity in which the individual may have served.

Other experience in a marine-related area, other than at sea, or sea service performed on unique vessels, will be evaluated by the Coast Guard for a determination of equivalence to traditional service.

Tonnage.

When determining sea service credit for officer endorsement applicants for National credentials, the tonnage of a vessel solely admeasured using the Convention measurement scheme under 46 U.S.C. Chapter 143 (ITC/ GT only) will be credited as Gross Register Tonnage. This paragraph does not apply to those vessels measured under the optional regulatory measurement provisions of (Dual Tonnage).